Digital, Legal Services To Benefit From U.K.-India Free Trade Agreement: London Lord Mayor

The U.K. and India have been in discussions for an FTA since January last year.
<div class="paragraphs"><p>(Source:&nbsp;<a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText">Ilya Pavlov</a> on <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>)</p></div>
(Source: Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash)

Ahead of the next round of free trade agreement talks set to take place later this month between the U.K. and Indian government representatives, the Lord Mayor of London will arrive in Mumbai on Saturday for a five-day visit to India to explore bilateral investment opportunities.

Alderman Nicholas Lyons, the 694th Lord Mayor, who represents the financial hub of London globally, said the prospect of greater cooperation in the fields of digital and legal services is among the expected outcomes of an FTA.

The U.K. and India have been in discussions for an FTA since January last year, and, according to official estimates, the bilateral trading relationship, worth £34 billion in 2022, is expected to get a significant boost with such a deal.

"While free trade agreements are negotiated by government representatives, my role as Lord Mayor of the City of London is really around financial and professional services, and the city can see particular interest in three areas: investment, digital, and legal services," the Lord Mayor said on the eve of his India visit.

"I think it's fair to say that in the aftermath of Brexit, we are stepping up significantly our engagement with some of our most important allies and trading partners, and India, of course, is very much one of those," he said.

During his two-city visit to Mumbai and Delhi, Lyons would be meeting senior government and business leaders, with a particular focus on the financial services sector and India’s successful Aadhaar card rollout.

"One thing that I have particularly asked to have some insights into is the way that India has responded to the problem of many Indians failing to have access to financial services. The brilliant initiative taken several years ago to use digital identification, rather than a lot of paperwork, opening up financial services to over 300 million Indians is really a brilliant example of financial inclusion," said Lyons.

"And I would like us in the U.K. to learn from that because there is probably between 10% and 20% of our population in the U.K. that does not have access to legacy financial services. So clearly, the solutions are ones of FinTech and digital. And I'm very interested to know more about that," he said.

Besides such two-way exchanges, the Lord Mayor’s visit is expected to cover growth areas of green and clean tech finance and also highlight London’s role as the hub for tracking the world’s climate action ambitions.

"The U.K. does have some leadership in thought around the green and clean tech sectors, and this is a very important issue in India as it transitions from its high dependency on fossil fuels over time to cleaner energy. These are global problems that require global solutions. So, I think it's important that we all come together to provide whatever expertise or financing is available to help solve these problems," he said.

"In the U.K., we have a Net Zero Delivery Summit that will be held in May, which sits neatly in the middle of the COP [climate summit] cycle, and we do this every year. The idea is that it will be coordinated in London; we'll gather the data here, we'll do the measurements, and that will be a way to monitor progress. We very much hope for significant engagement from Indian participants as well," he added.

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